It’s time to meet this week’s #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY! We are so pumped for you to get to know the incredibly talented Chanel Lacasse! Chanel is a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer from Canada’s West coast. From the time she was young, Chanel has had a passion for the performing arts. It’s so amazing to see that Chanel has cultivated her own sense of style and storytelling through years and years of training and honing her craft. Her dedication and perseverance are truly admirable. What we love the most about her is how grateful she is to be a part of an industry where she can give life to her creative ideas and visions through the vessel of dance.

Chanel is an undeniable force in her industry. Her extensive resume includes credits such as Sephora, GSG Productions, PRP Productions, Canada’s 150th Celebration, Whistler World Ski & Snowboard Event, Diner En Blanc, St. Paul’s Hospital, Variety Children’s Charity and Marianas Trench Music Videos. She can also be seen on the Netflix series entitled Chilling Adventurs of Sabrina (Episode 114 and 120), The Inbetween (Episode 8) on NBC Networks and iZombie (Episode 313). Not to mention, Chanel is one of the main class assistants for Groove Street Productions and the Assistant Director and Choreographer alongside Joanne Pesusich for The Source Dance Company. Chanel is also on Faculty at Harbour Dance Centre, which is the Vancouver’s top drop-in studio for professional dancers. One of Chanel’s most esteemed accomplishments is the Solo Seal Award, which is the highest recognition you can receive with the Royal Academy of Dance. Chanel is one of only 250 recipients in the world who have been awarded with this prestigious distinction. That’s not all either! Chanel is the Co-Director and Creator of KC Dance Workshops, which is a touring dance workshop geared towards inspiring youth across Western Canada.

Chanel is a go-getter and is in constant pursuit of what inspires her to be the best in her craft! This is a woman who doesn’t take any opportunity for granted and radiates endless gratitude for being able to do what she loves around the clock. It’s that joy which Chanel brings to every person she meets or experience that makes her special. Her vivacious personality and contagious laughter are enjoyed by all of those around her. We can’t wait to see what this girl boss will do next. One thing’s for sure: Chanel has made it clear that she is here to make a difference. Thank you Chanel for showing us that working hard can only result in your wildest dreams coming true!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

What has been the most rewarding part of pursuing your dreams of being a professional dancer? What has been the most difficult?

Tough question! For me, the most rewarding part thus far has got to be when I received the opportunity to choreograph for one of Vancouver's pre-professional companies, The Source Dance Company. It was one of those things that seemed so far out of reach for me, only the best from Vancouver and LA choreographed for the Source and then suddenly I was working with the company. It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. What is even crazier is how much things have come full circle. I am now an Assistant Director of The Source Dance Company and I feel as though without Joanne believing and taking that chance with me choreographing, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So, Thank you JO!

As for the most difficult, last year, this question would have been answered completely differently. But currently, I feel as though injury has been the toughest. I have been fortunate throughout my entire life when it comes to my body. Last summer I was kicked in the head whilst dancing and later found it was a concussion. It impacted my season this past year in both negative and beautiful ways. It forced me to slow down and say no to certain things. It has connected me to myself in more ways than I can describe, and it’s made me realize what a gift life is in all forms. It has also showed me what a crazy industry that dance is, in comparison to other sports. We have this mentality to “push through” any and everything our body is telling us. Unfortunately when I did that, it resulted in my injury lasting longer, which is usual amongst most injuries. This brings in self-awareness and knowing when your body is telling you to take a second and evaluate what is actually going on within you. I am really grateful this happened to me though; it changed me as a human for the better. The most exciting thing for me at the moment is getting back to training… man is it scary, but I am so ready!

What does self-awareness mean to you? Why is it important for us to be self-aware?

Funny you bring this up! I feel as though this has been the soul root of my year. Relearning what self-awareness is to me, and how it evolves with me. From a day to day perspective I enjoy checking in with myself, whether that means journaling, doing some yoga, meditation, or one of my favourite things to do is throw on some Rhye, and head to the beach to watch the sunset (that is a daily ritual of mine). Personally, self-awareness has been and will continue to be a journey. I have been dealing with anxiety and what has changed my relationship with it enormously has been “self-awareness”, noticing whatever is going on inside & then shifting those thoughts to come back to my present moment. I’ve also noticed a huge shift in my relationships, on all levels, when self-awareness became a priority. E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. Learning how empathy & compassion can help in strained relationships, deepen current ones and create a strong foundation for new ones has been invaluable. I work with children up through adults & what I have found through having more empathy at the forefront of my interactions with others, is that it has led to such a true level of trust that they carry with me. It feels friggin’ fantastic. I honestly believe that if self-awareness were practiced amongst our entire human race, our earth as we know it would be totally different. Think about it... people taking care of their own crap without projecting it onto others! It’d be magical!

Who is your biggest female role model and why? What example do you hope to set for the future generation of girls? 

Biggest female role model! Gosh, I feel really lucky to have so many role models in my life & for so many different reasons. Alex Mazerolle (Ally Maz) is a big one for me. I have actually known Ally my whole life, but within the last few years she has been a consistent source of a positive feminine perspective, a voice of non-judgment, a woman who has had quite the journey and made amazing & difficult decisions (some of which I see myself making in the future). 

Another role model for me is my mum, Kehree Lacasse.Naturally this happens for many I am sure. My mum is an incredible woman, holding down the fort of our family as well as holding down a studio of 400 plus dancers & their families. She demonstrates a deep level of care for those in her life and invests herself into everything she does. I cannot say enough how much I look up to her and her drive.

In regards to professional dancers, a role model for me is Karen Chuang. I admire Karen as a mover, she is a completely different artist from myself and when I had the opportunity to share space with her at an intensive last year, she was always someone I found I could source inspiration or a new perspective from. 

Lastly, Greer Whillans. As my partner in crime, she has and continues to be a constant role model for me. Greer’s ability to be real, accepting and undoubtedly supportive of others and their endeavors is always something I have loved. She continues to explore human connection and vulnerability with persistence and a deep curiosity. She is decisive and such a go-getter. Things that I aspire to be more of myself.

I work with young girls and have for several years. What I hope to offer, as an example for those younger than myself is self-acceptance and a voice geared towards understanding, compassion and empathy.

Why do you think it’s important for women to use their voices? What does “using your voice” mean to you?

Damn, it is SO important! I mean look at the current climate of our entire world. Women are speaking up all around the globe and it is switching up the script and bringing more things to the table that can only be discussed and used effectively with all genders present. I believe that things will never shift unless things are done a different way. It’s also important that not just women but everyone use their voices. Being in the dance industry, I find myself in a female dominated environment, and am constantly reminded of how beautiful it is to see and hear women's voices. Personally, I like to use my voice to spread kindness, sincerity, equality & an understanding. Simple as that.

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

My definition of a YGTGirl is every girl. She is someone who believes she is infinite and whole within herself. She sees others as their whole self, their soul, she accepts them for who they are without judgment. “Infinite” is such a massive word that seems to carry so much weight but at the same time it is every single person in their essence.